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Family Guy's Super Dark Episode From 2011 Still Has Viewers Reeling

When you watch an episode of "Family Guy," you can be reasonably confident about what to expect. There will be escapades at the expense of the Griffin family with Peter, Stewie, Brian, Lois, and Chris getting in some good jokes. Inevitably, some of those jokes will be cutaway gags that have nothing to do with the actual plot of the episode. And for the most part, the other characters will treat Meg like trash. 

But every so often, as tends to be the case with a lot of transgressive TV series, the show will mix up its formula. Like so many series before it, this may take the form of a bottle episode, only focusing on a couple of characters for the entire runtime of the episode. This was most famously done in "Family Guy" for Season 7's "Brian & Stewie," where the two titular characters are trapped in a bank vault and reveal some deep, dark secrets about themselves. 

In other instances, "Family Guy" will flip the script by playing a plotline completely straight with minimal jokes. Despite coming out back in Season 10, "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q" left its mark on fans by being completely different from anything the show had done before or after. 

Family Guy fans still have strong emotions surrounding Screams of Silence

"Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q" follows Glenn Quagmire's sister as she shows up to Quahog. With her is her abusive boyfriend, Jeff, and upon the realization that the authorities will do nothing to protect Brenda, Quagmire, Peter, Joe, and Cleveland take it upon themselves to kill Jeff. From its subject matter to its resolution, it's an insanely dark episode, and while there are some jokes sprinkled in, it's never at the expense of domestic abuse victims. 

Though it came out in 2011, Redditors continue to dissect the episode to this day. One user posits that the episode is darker than anything else "Family Guy" has ever done, and many people appeared to be in agreement. Redditor u/aloelampbree wrote, "Definitely very dark and serious for family guy, I don't know if I would say disturbing, but not by any means a usual episode." Some of the imagery was just too intense for fans, like when Quagmire gets choked up, causing one Redditor to write, "The scene when Quagmire was choked disturbed me the most about this episode. It looked like he died."

The episode, however, can be considered a divisive one. In its breakdown of 10 "Family Guy" episodes to skip, Collider had this to say on "Screams of Silence," "It's genuinely hard to sit through the entire 20 minutes due to the extreme tone-deafness of the writing. It's cringe-worthy to watch something fail so miserably that has such lofty ambitions." With hundreds of episodes to its name, it's understandable "Family Guy" would want to break out of its routine, and over 10 years since it first came out, the episode continues courting controversy.